It is becoming far more effective to rely on adverse publicity to force a company to change its working practices than pursuing claims in the courts or tribunals. This applies particularly if a Parliamentary select committee takes up the cause. It is also infinitely cheaper due to the costs, delays and uncertainty of tribunals/courts and the limited remedies available. These do not include forcing a company to change its working practices. And from the various reports, ASOS has not actually breached any employment or health and safety regulations, even if their working practices are tough.
Whilst adverse publicity from the select committee may have been successful in forcing changes at high profile companies such as Sports Direct and ASOS, unless the Government changes the law (and accepts it has some responsibility rather than simply blaming the companies), it is unlikely to make much difference to most UK workers who are more likely to work at (low profile) SMEs.
If the Government really wants to help UK workers, then they should perhaps start with abolishing zero hours’ contracts and tribunal fees. Relying on adverse publicity for high profile companies is not the answer.
ASOS has told its staff it would make changes to its working practices after a BuzzFeed investigation revealed problems within its global distribution centre.
The online fashion retailer wrote to staff yesterday about changes it would make to their contracts amid widely-published allegations that current practices were exploitative.
Staff at its global distribution centre in Barnsley were allegedly told less than 24 hours after the investigation was published that changes would be made to shifts and the length of probation periods, according to Buzzfeed.
It is understood that changes to contracts had been under discussion for some time but action was taken after Ian Wright MP, chair of the business select committee looking into corporate governance and working conditions of large companies, announced ASOS would be included in the inquiry.